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Commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Issue MS-04 More Thought Provoking Commentary!
October 13, 2009
You are invited to read this commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
By MICHAEL S. SMITH II, Executive editor of The Ethical Standard: Official Publication of The Free Enterprise Foundation
"Have you ever heard of a poor person spending themselves into prosperity? ... It's amazing how far we're moving from spending restraint."
Art Laffer, Member, Pres. Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-'89)
Comments made during the Summit on the Economy and Employment, 30 September 2009
Andrew C. McCarthy, "War By Fallacy: Afghanistan is a symptom, not the problem,"
National Review, 9 October 2009
As televised news audiences know, for months GEICO has been running entertaining ads featuring its green, softly-quipping, British-affected "hardest working business gecko." I mention these television advertisements hoping that, in the off chance the Obama administration is still monitoring "fishy" critiques of its track record, the following review of the pres's post-Inauguration Day performances might be brought to his attention. As Mr. Obama is, of course, no stranger to the realm of television, my hunch is that he's familiar with GEICO's gecko.
In one of those ads the gecko notes some words of wisdom observed by many "successful" businessmen: "Hard work equals success." So why is it that with all of their hard work on The Hill, Obama & Co.'s chief representatives have realized very little in the way of success with all of their efforts?
What is an agenda comprised of too many priorities giving rise to a scenario in which too many promises are being made by policy-makers left with too little time and/or political capital to deliver any actual results, Monsieur Trebek?
While hard work may equal success, working hard to find success with too many irons in the fire can, and often will, leave one empty-handed when it comes to the desired outcomes of their efforts, particularly in politics. In other words, someone needs to tell the Democrats it might suit their interests to do a few things well, rather than, well, trying to do it all at once and thus getting nothing much done at all. In other words: Keep it simple ... Americans don't prefer to find footage of clowns trying to juggle more than they can manage when they flip the channel to C-SPAN.
The economy was front and center on Election Day last November. And it was an issue of far more alarming paramountcy for all in the Capitol the day following President Obama's inaugural address.
After ramming through the Congress one of, if not the most expensive pieces of legislation in the history of modern governance (i.e. the economic "stimulus" package of 2009 titled "The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act") - legislation most elected officials from both sides of the aisle conceded they'd not even bothered or, for that matter, had time to read - the president and his Democrat colleagues quickly shifted focus to tackling other issues.
Sure, some legislators might have suggested "Hey, wait a minute! Why don't we invest our energies in providing adequate oversight of how all of this money is dispersed?" But with hunger for universal healthcare and cap and trade-oriented "green" policies weighing on their minds, the Democrats decided the menu for the legislative fish fry they'd kicked off with their "stimulus" package should include a few more entrees and side options.
But before they could get to that: The president had to try to distract the media's attention away from continually declining employment levels, an affront to claims that a passage of his administration's "stimulus" bill would halt that trend, by committing 16,000 plus more troops to Afghanistan in February in order to shore up America's position in the "good war," a war Mr. Obama would months later call a "war of necessity."
This, before his administration even bothered to complete its (unilateral mind you) strategy review for "overseas contingency operations" in AfPak. This, after Democrats for years berated the Bush administration for its members' so-called "unilateralist" proclivities in terms of the dynamics of strategies crafted for their War on Terror, and - Oh yeah! - committing troops to Iraq without first adequately identifying their goals, along with their strategies for achieving those goals. This, and Mr. Obama would later waffle on the question of whether that war is one he intends to actually fight after putting more painted targets on the field for the Taliban to shoot at earlier in the year. It's no wonder the American Political Science Association was recently able to report most nations perceive there to be little difference between the policies of the current and former administrations in Washington, D.C.
Oh, and who could forget the Department of Homeland Security's leaked report that warned of a surge in Rightwing extremism in America? This, after all of the pledges Presidential Candidate Obama made that his administration would foster a less politically divisive atmosphere than his immediate predecessor's did across America. Yes, this was essentially a prelude of things that would soon follow (i.e. the ultra-Leftists' fully-partisan monopolization of ink being used to draft legislation for health care (insurance) reform in America).
Then the Dems left the gate on their race to reform health care (insurance) in America, introducing their 1,000-page-plus bill titled HR 3200.
When this effort started heading south, in his second address before Congress Mr. Obama would tell the world - most all of the countries of which envy America's healthcare system - that America's health care system is the worst of all developed democracies. Never mind all of those Canadians who seek care here! He then attempted to illuminate just how bad it is by employing such logically fallacious tactics as pointing to extremes with the terribly unusual story of a man who was denied a life-saving operation at the last minute because his insurance benefits suddenly expired. "Did he go back weeks later to receive the same treatment as a Medicare beneficiary?" one wonders. (Let's not forget that in his first address before the Congress Mr. Obama noted America, not Germany, is where the automobile was invented, and China, one of the world's fastest growing source of pollutants, is leading the green revolution.)
Months before that the pres stood in the Rose Garden with members of a national nonprofit organization that represents the interests of nurses much like the AMA says it "represents" the interests of medical doctors and he called for public support for what Karl Rove was beginning to decry as "ObamaCare." Those of us whose family members are MDs thought: "Well it's great nurses are all for socialized healthcare, but do any of them actually own any of the private medical practices or hospitals from which Americans seek care? Should Americans care what nurses think about how those facilities are managed?"
Equally rich: The president's depiction of doctors as greedy thieves of children's tonsils.
Then there arose another effort to distract the press, this time from the foundering proposal titled HR 3200 with Eric Holder's witch hunt - an investigation of CIA officers who were operating at the front lines of efforts to keep Americans safe from Islamists' plots after 9/11. "What next!" so many Americans thought.
Around that time Cap and Trade came into focus, sort of. This bill is an absolute slap in the face to the country that owns some $1 Trillion worth of U.S. treasuries. That country, which we call China, happens to be the largest harvester of coal. Thus Americans should have no doubts that China's very recent commitment to become Iran's fixer for its gasoline needs (at a time when it is becoming clearer Iran is, in fact, developing a nuclear weapons program) is a veritable canary in the coal mine of things to come in terms of China's rising disdain for America's agenda on the global stage.
Next, Hillary displayed her gross ineptitude in terms of demonstrating the judgment Americans expect their secretaries of State to possess. Who would have thought such a politician would jump on the wrong side of history by announcing the U.S. was backing Zelaya, the cocaine-trafficking, anti-Semitic socialist who was ousted from his post as president of Honduras in lieu of his unconstitutional posturing that he intended to become the next Latin American dictator.
More recently, Commander in Chief Obama has, as noted above, waffled on the question of whether he intends to oblige a request for the deployments of some 40,000 additional uniformed troops to Afghanistan. A request issued by his top man there, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Hey, no one can call Mr. Obama a wimp after his posturing that's antithetical to China's global business interests by supporting the Dems' Cap and Trade bill, but they should question the substance of the information provided to him by his National Security Advisor. If, however, he is rightly being informed that Iran is using members of the Taliban as emissaries in its efforts to make a play from the same book of strategy the U.S. wrote to expel Soviet invaders from Afghanistan, a country in which the U.S. is now regarded as the invading force by the Salafists who arrived there as jihadists in the '80s, the president is demonstrating anything but prudent judgment when it comes to how the U.S. should be dealing with the world's problems in Persia.
In AfPak decisiveness is needed. More specifically, a decision to kill all of the Islamists who are puppets of Sunni bin Laden's and (ironically) Shia Iran's agendas is the decision that must be made. Unfortunately, however, what appears to be an attempt on the administration's part to appease doves on The Hill by delaying any decision to do just that - or not - is emboldening militants throughout Persia.
Mr. President, when grand strategists like Thomas P.M. Barnett - who is anything but a torchbearer for Rightwing thought leadership - are resorting to the usage of terms like myopia to characterize the state of your administration's defense strategies, but particularly where pertinent to operations in AfPak, our country has one very big problem on our hands. Their opinions should matter more to you than those voiced in public opinion polls. After all, most Americans do not possess the clearances or connections which are generally needed to gather the awareness of matters that is essential to any worthwhile opinings focused on our nation's foreign policy pursuits.
When it comes to our national security, the state of our economy is equally relevant to the question of how we will deal with the threat of Islamo-fascists like members of al Qa'ida and the Taliban, many of whom are members of both.
In lieu of the dismal suggestions being made by people like Timothy Geithner, who not so long ago advised your administration may raise taxes imposed on the middle class, I submit that Art Laffer is a pretty sharp guy, Mr. President. Still, if supply-side economics is to be dismissed by your administration as the stuff of Republican voodoo, please at least have someone explain to Mr. Geithner the meanings of such Keynesian terms as the "multiplier effect." Here's a tip for any economists and journalists who might be saying "Wait, they are creating jobs": Be more considerate of what you call job creation in terms of jobs that benefit the broader, macro economic environment in the U.S. Something which government jobs do not.
As I write, the jury's still out on the matter of how the Obama administration will deal with what is clearly an effort on Iran's part to develop a nuclear weapons program, a program Iran will use to redraw the maps of the Middle East and Persia if allowed to develop it - and perhaps even to try to "wipe Israel off the map."
If all of the afore is a bit much for you to think about all at once, just think of the average voter. It's clear the Dems are blitzing the legislative wherewithal and foci of their representatives in Congress in an effort to shift the public's attention away from the actual details of the policy prescriptions placed before them, all of which amount to profligate spending, weak posturing for our (fr)enemies to enjoy, and anti-free market measures.
One must wonder why the Dems are in such a hurry to pass all of the legislation they've introduced since January, lest they be fearful the president's declining favorability in terms of poll numbers suggests their majority is in jeopardy.
Yet there is a light emerging in this tunnel ...
In the maelstrom of nincompoopery that has engulfed The Hill a bill requiring that legislators be provided ample time to actually read anything they are called to vote on has been introduced. And, if that bill becomes law, legislators' future successes may actually be the results of hard work.
In the meantime a growing majority of Americans are hoping the Dems' efforts on health care (insurance) reform will continue to hardly work at all. In the very least, they're hopeful such acts as ObamaCare may become will be repealed by later administrations.
The odds that the next administration will be one helmed by Barack Obama are increasingly sinking. Still, if he decides to encourage his fellow Democrats to focus more on less in terms of policy entrepreneurship, Mr. Obama may be able to right his administration's and his party's ships. (An idea for where he should start: Focus on continually rising levels of unemployment, rather than on disrupting the health care marketplace, which represents nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy. Another suggestion: Hire new speech writers and legislative liaisons who understand the importance of fact-checking.)
It will take quite a bit of hard work for the president to keep those ships afloat. But "Hard work equals success," right?
Copyright © 2009 by Michael S. Smith II and The Free Enterprise Foundation. All rights reserved
About the author: Mr. Smith is executive editor of The Ethical Standard: Official Publication of The Free Enterprise Foundation. He is also a contributing editor for SCHotline , a Columbia, S.C.-based conservative-oriented news aggregator site. Mr. Smith is a member of The Monday Meeting, an influential forum for conservative policy-makers, business leaders and journalists hosted in New York.
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